Cellphones can contain up to 60 rare-earth metals, many of which get lost due to poor design

By contrast, modern mobile phones, which may contain up to sixty useful and rare metals, are too small and fiddly for triage to be worth the effort. The upshot is that many valuable materials end up in landfills or are melted into new metallic alloys, wasting their unique properties.

If products were designed to facilitate proper separation and recycling of the constituent parts we could have a shot at creating sustainable cycles of raw-material use. As it stands, these materials get mixed and thrown away and even where it’s possible to re-use the economic incentive is not necessarily there because of prohibitive costs (again poor design…).

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